Dwindling fish stock forces new restrictions
Drastic measures are being taken to protect a recreational fishery.
The provincial government has virtually brought kokanee fishing to a halt on Wood Lake after extremely low spawning numbers over the last two years.
“It’s a wake-up call,” said Paul Askey, fisheries biologist.
“I’m sure people will be disappointed but most will understand the need for short-term pain for long-term gain.”
While fishing was previously allowed year-round, it will now only be allowed between April 15 to May 31. Each angler will have a daily quota of two kokanee.
Wood Lake has been known as one of the top kokanee fisheries in the region.
However, in 2011, the species was impacted by a high algae bloom that reduced the amount of oxygen in the lake.
In 2001, there were 6,300 spawners, far below the average of about 14,000. In 2012, that number dropped to 2,300.
Acoustic trawl surveys indicate that 2013 and 2014 could also see low spawner returns, but a full seasonal harvest is expected by 2015 provided conditions remain favourable.
“As long we reduce the harvest now, returns should bounce back,” said Askey.
Given current conditions, the Oceola Fish and Game Club had called for a complete ban on kokanee fishing on Wood Lake.
Askey doesn’t believe that is required.
“We have a lot of data and because of that, we can afford to be more active with managing the population,” he said.
“By opening a short period of time for fishing, we will get some important data. We can see how we react over the long-term and keep the fishery healthy.”